Conversion Therapy – Prof John Whitehall

CMDFA NSW Conference on Moral Injury


from Luke’s Journal 2021 | Fire in the Belly 2021 | Vol.26 No.1

In August, legislation was enacted in Queensland and the ACT that is of grave concern to all Christians in Australia. The legislation promises gaol sentences for those who act upon the Biblical injunction of Romans 12, to not ‘copy the behaviour and customs of this world’ but instead ‘let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think’ (Romans 12:2a NLT). By contrast, the Gospel promises forgiveness for human weakness, but also help in overcoming unwanted behaviour.

The Queensland ‘Health Legislation Amendment Act 2020’1 and the ACT ‘Sexuality and Gender Identity Conversion Practices Bill 2020’2 are based on the premise that attempts to restrain sexual behaviour and identity are misplaced: That people indulging in behaviours they do not want should be assured they are not ‘broken’, and that attempts to ‘convert’ them towards heterosexual restraint and gender identity congruent with chromosomes are bound to fail and increase suffering in the process. The Acts assume that sexual behaviour is immutable. To the contrary, the Gospel teaches that behavioural change is possible for those who seek it, especially with help from Above.

The current Victorian Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 20203 which is likely to be enacted in February 2021, is even more punitive in its attempts to eradicate so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and the prospect of relief from unwanted sexual behaviour. If enacted, the definition of ‘conversion therapy’ is so broad it will become a criminal act for anyone, in any way, to offer counselling to anyone burdened by unwanted sexual pre-occupation, even if that help is freely sought by a knowledgeable adult.

In my opinion – and I repeat that this is my opinion – this and pending similar legislation in other States constitutes the most serious threat against the Good News we have ever faced in Australia. First, its underlying principle is that ‘unusual’ (my words) sexual behaviour is not a sign of ‘broken-ness’ (theirs) thus negating the Gospel of forgiveness. Second, it will criminalise (literally put you in gaol) if you help by extending fellowship or by counselling anyone seeking to be liberated from besetting sexual behaviour. Thus, the twin bases of the Gospel, salvation from sin through Christ and sanctification by the Spirit, are to be abolished by parliamentary decree.

“… [The Bill] intends, forcibly, to install the ideology of gender fluidity over society and to silence contrary opinion.”

The argument underlying the so-called anti-Conversion Therapy laws is that sexual behaviour and identity cannot and should not be restrained: that such restraint is cruel, depressing, unnatural and impossible, promoting self-harm and suicide, and, therefore attempts for change should be punished and abolished. Although the stated reason to legislate in this area is to protect a population that is deemed to be vulnerable or marginalised, I don’t think that is its primary aim. I think it intends, forcibly, to install the ideology of gender fluidity over society and to silence contrary opinion. 

To persuade for the necessity of banishing so-called Conversion Therapy, its proponents evoke the spectre of past attempts to ‘convert’ homosexuality to heterosexuality by administration of electric shock or other forms of what can fairly be described as torture, sex hormones, castration and even lobotomy.3 It should be needless to emphasise such coercive, aversive interventions are no longer practiced in Australia. Indeed, it was interesting that proponents for outlawing so-called Conversion Therapy in Queensland could cite no evidence for its occurrence in that state, despite several invitations to do so in the Parliamentary enquiry. Nevertheless, proponents for criminalisation argue that modern, freely sought, psychotherapy, Christian fellowship and counselling are the modern equivalent of the Medieval spectre and, therefore, demand prohibition. 

According to the current ideology of gender fluidity, sexual orientation, expression and identity is immutable. Well, almost immutable. Fluidity of expression and identity is alleged to be normal and worthy of chemical and surgical support as long as its movement does not revert ‘back’ towards congruence with chromosomes. In other words, administration of cross-sex hormones with their inherent chemical castration and alteration of the structure of the brain, and surgical attempts to create ersatz genitalia of the opposite sex, involving not only castration but also dismemberment, are now justified as long as they lead away from the chromosomes. Castrations and lobotomies are now in vogue. The irony should be compelling.

The extent of moral injury can only be imagined. Hundreds of Australian children and adolescents are, every year, entering the pathway of trans-gendering (see table, below).4 

Since the Family Court abrogated its gatekeeping role in November 2019, we don’t really know how many children are attending clinics, and receiving hormones, etc. Certainly, ‘hundreds’ are presenting each year throughout Australia. With enactment of recent legislation, it will now be a criminal act to delay, seek to avoid or to offer an alternative form of therapy for gender confusion. ACT and pending Victorian laws threaten anyone who does not promote trans gendering for a young person who is arguing he or she is of the opposite sex, anywhere such ‘conversion therapy’ is performed… in the home by parents or grandparents, in schools by teachers, in churches by counsellors, in offices by doctors. Escape will be impossible: attempts to flee states with those laws and seek counselling elsewhere for a confused child will be a criminal act. Free speech will be curtailed. It may soon become a criminal act in Victoria to ‘induce’ someone to seek change, putting into law the ability of proponents for the ideology of gender fluidity to ban ‘public broadcasts’ of a contrary point of view.

Australia has never seen such determination to eradicate the promise of John 8:36 that ‘if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’. Moral injury will be sustained by anyone feeling bound to promote that promise. 

Practical things that may be undertaken to preserve religious freedom include joining in urgent calls to prayer as various bills come before Parliament; and signing petitions being circulated through various bodies, including the CMDFA. People should certainly contact their local member, preferably with an (even short) handwritten letter rather than an email, expressing concerns about the Bill. 

A video of this talk is available to members of CMDFA. If you are not a member and would like more information please call the CMDFA Office on 02 9680 1233.

Prof John Whitehall     
Professor John Whitehall has been interested in the growing phenomenon of gender confusion in children since 2016. He has authored articles in Quadrant Magazine (, submitted to enquiries and courts, criticising legislation mandating hormonal affirmation as an affront to human rights, particularly that of children to be free from experimentation.  

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